Villagers of Isali (Marwad junction) led by their sarpanch organised a demonstration on 4 August 2015 to demand compensation for crop damage in Isali during the hailstorm in April this year. They submitted a memorandum in which they pointed out that because of government officials not carrying out the inspections, many people have been deprived of compensation. On the same day, in Sangrur district, hundreds of farmers came out to demonstrate in front of the office of the District Collector under the leadership of Bhartiya Kisan Union. They blocked the streets and caused the traffic to come to a standstill. On 2nd August 2015, farmers held a meeting in Sonipat under the chairmanship of Shri Rohtas Beniwal and declared that Aug 15 would be observed a day of protest by the BKU at the Deenbandhu Choturam Memorial in Garhi Saampla.
On 1st August 2015, there was a district-vide dharna demonstration in the whole Sirsa district of Haryana under the leadership of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha in front of the offices of the Electric Power corporations. They were demanding prompt replacement of burnt transformers and restoration of electricity within 24 hours. They also demanded that some 300 farmers whose applications have been pending should be given connections immediately. On 31st July 2015, farmers of Palwal demonstrated in front of the Palwal Mini Secretariat to demand compensation for crops destroyed by the Power Grid Corporation of india when they were installing the towers for the 765 KV line from kanpur in that area. On 29th July the farmers of Panipat held a protest meeting at the Lal Batti chowk and burnt an effigy of Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan to express their anger at the indifference of the government towards the problems of the farmers. This protest was organised by BKU and it put forward many demands including for debt cancellation for farmers and for the government to come out with a white paper on the crops destroyed due to intimely rains in April. On 27th July, farmers of Kaithal had blocked the road to demand fair compensation for land acquition in their area.
These are but a few examples of recent protest actions by Haryana farmers. It is clear that the farmers of Haryana are very angry with the government. It is not difficult to see that the state government and the central government are following anti-farmer policies. State governments used to give bonus but this year there is a ban on making such payments. MSP was declared but their produce is not being lifted from mandis. Farmers were lathicharged when they asked for fertiliser. Many have not been paid compensation for damage to crops in unseasonal rains in April. many sugarcane farmers have not been paid arrears by the sugar mills. This same situation in other states also.
Image: Farmers Holding a Protest Meeting
The root of the problem is that governments at the centre and in the states have been following a policy of expanding the space for private corporations in Indian agriculture. In stead of procuring crops, government wants to encourage farmers to enter into contract with big corporations. Farmers are getting squeezed between low farm-gate prices and high input costs. Other problems that the farmers face is lack of credit available from the banks, because of which they are forced to take credit from money-lenders at exorbitant rates and get ruined when there are crop failures. These are reasons because of which more than one lakh of farmers have committed suicide in the last decade.
Farmers constitute an important part of our population. They produce food grains and other crops as industrial inputs. Farmers work hard to fulfil their important role in society and it is the duty of the state to ensure that farmers live dignified lives. Instead of promoting capitalism and contract farming, government must make agricultural inputs available to farmers at low rates and must procure the produce at remunerative prices. At the same time, it must make sure that food grains are available to the urban population at affordable rates. Thus, it is essential for the government to control the wholesale trade and eliminate profiteering to protect the interests of both farmers and urban working population. In stead of increasing the space for capitalist production and trade, is necessary for the government to play the necessary role to serve both the interests of rural and urban populations.
By Dr. Bharat Seth